By Jake Donovan
The light flyweight division appeared on paper to be boxing’s deepest weight class for the 2012 London Games, as three of the top four seeds captured Olympic medals in the 2008 Beijing Games.
Only two now remain, as Devendro Singh scored a major upset for the India boxing team with a 16-11 win over defending Silver medalist Purevdorjiin Serdamba of Mongolia.
The bout marked the first for Team India since yesterday’s controversial welterweight bout, when Krishan Vikas was announced as a 13-11 winner over Errol Spence of the United States. The official verdict eliminated Team USA from male boxing competition, but the decision was reversed upon a successful appeal, citing numerous fouls from Vikas which went unpunished by the referee.
India’s squad is still fuming over the reversal, but Singh’s big win helped ease the pain. The fight was close throughout, which only meant good things for the underdog. Serdamba was never able to put together a sustained rally, with things going from bad to worse after receiving a standing eight-count after getting rocked in the third round.
Serdamba came into the fight having received an opening round bye, which means he hasn’t won an Olympic bout since defeating Cuba’s Yampier Hernandez to advance to the finals in the 2008 Games.
Meanwhile, Singh gives India its second quarterfinalist in this year’s competition, joining middleweight Vijender Singh in moving within one fight from the medal round.
The upset doesn’t make Singh’s path any easier, as he’ll have to beat at least one more returning medalist in order to remain alive in competition. Paddy Barnes of Ireland is up next, as the 2008 Olympic Bronze medalist powered his way to a 15-10 win over Thomas Essomaba of Cameroon.
Shiming Zou of China entered the 2012 Olympics as the odds-on favorite to repeat as Gold medalist in the light flyweight division, having done so in 2008 after capturing Olympic bronze in 2004.
The trip to the podium isn’t quite the foregone conclusion that most believed would be the case, as China’s amateur standout struggled in a 14-11 win over Yosbany Veitia of Cuba.
Zou managed to win each round by a single point, but sealed the deal with a knockdown in the final round – ironically, Veitia’s best round of the fight. Both fighters had their say throughout the fight, the tightly contested affair indicative of the rich talent pool in the division.
It wasn’t the best performance by Zou, but was enough for the 31-year old moves within one win from capturing a third Olympic medal. Standing in his way is Kazakhstan’s Birzhan Zhakypov, who powered out a 17-16 win over Mark Barriga of the Philippines.
The bout featured numerous fouls but also a steady flow of action, with momentum swaying back and forth. Barriga enjoyed a huge second round to overcome an early deficit and take the lead.
However, the lone member of the Philippine boxing team was a bit too overzealous in the final round, conceding four points for wrestling (which also resulted in Zhakypov giving up two points) and leading with his head.
Zhakypov moves on to the quarterfinals, while Barriga’s loss means the end of the boxing road for the Philippines.
Four more bouts are on tap later this evening. None will feature fighters from the United States or Great Britain, this being the only weight class in which neither fighter fielded a qualifying boxer.
Light flyweight quarterfinal action takes place on Wednesday, August 8.
Round of 16 Results (Saturday, August 4):
Shiming Zou (China) def. Yosbany Veitia (Cuba), 14-11
Birzhan Zhakypov (Kazakhstan) def. Mark Barriga (Philippines), 17-16
Paddy Barnes (Ireland) def. Thomas Essomaba (Cameroon), 15-10
Devendro Singh (India) vs. Purevdorjiin Serdamba (Mongolia), 16-11
Jantony Ortiz (Puerto Rico) vs. David Ayrapetyan (Russia)
Ferhat Pehlivan (Turkey) vs. Ramy El Awadi (Egypt/Received 1st round bye)
Carlos Quipo (Ecuador) vs. Kaeo Pongprayoon (Thailand)
Aleksandr Aleksandrov (Bulgaria) vs. Jong-Hun Shin (South Korea/Received 1st round bye)
Light Flyweight Quarterfinals (Wednesday, August 8)
Zou Shiming (China) vs. Birzhan Zhakypov (Kazakhstan)
Paddy Barnes (Ireland) vs. Devendro Singh (India)
TBA vs. TBA
TBA vs. TBA
Light Flyweight - Round of 32 Results (Tuesday, July 31):
Yosbany Veitia (Cuba) def. Billy Ward (Australia), 26-4
Mark Barriga (Philippines) def. Manuel Cappai (Italy), 17-7
Birzhan Zhakypov (Kazakhstan) def. Jeremy Beccu (France), 18-17
Thomas Essomaba (Cameroon) def. Abdelali Daraa (Morocco), 13-10
Devendro Singh (India) def. Bayron Molina (Honduras), RSC-1 (2:24)
Jantony Ortiz (Puerto Rico) vs. Tetteh Sulemanu (Ghana), 20-6
Ferhat Pehlivan (Turkey) def. Carlos Suarez (Trinidad & Tobago), 16-6
Carlos Quipo (Ecuador) def. Jose Kelvin de la Nieve (Spain) , 14-11
Kaeo Pongprayoon (Thailand) def. Mohamed Flissi (Algeria), 19-11
Aleksandr Aleksandrov (Bulgaria) def. Juliano Maquina (Mozambique), 22-7
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: